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3 Tips for Discussing Grades with Your Online College Professors

How to email an online college professor

​You're a smart, hardworking, committed student and you take great pride in your grades. You know that grades demonstrate your work ethic and communicate how well you're comprehending course material. 

Grades can also become important factors in job recommendations and acceptance decisions for higher level degree programs, internships, awards, and scholarships.

With the weight grades hold, it's essential to take effective steps to openly communicate about your performance with your professors – particularly if you're unsure why you received a certain grade.

While online classes may make these important conversations more difficult – as they must be had via email instead of face-to-face – following these three tips will help you facilitate a productive discussion and gain clarity.

Use Professional Mannerisms

Since email is the main communication tool between you and your online college professors, learning how to email your professor(s) is one of the keys to success in a virtual classroom environment.

To get your message across in respectful, efficient manner, and to avoid miscommunications from differing interpretations:

  • Address your online college professor formally. For example, a respectful greeting would be, "Dear Professor Jackson, . . ."
  • Introduce yourself within the first two sentences. To help your professor identify you right away, provide your full name with the class title and section number your email pertains to. For example, you may state, "My name is James Godfrey. I am in your Foundations of Research Methods in Administration class, section MSA 600."
  • Briefly describe the reason for your email. Get to the point of your concern as soon as possible. This will help your professor understand your concern and provide feedback in a timely manner. You may state, "I am writing in regards to the grade I received on my term paper."
  • Craft your email using a neutral, professional tone. Refrain from using words that exert too much emotion and express an abundance of negativity, such as extremely disappointed, horrible grade, etc. Eliminating emoticons and exclamation points will help you achieve a professional tone.

Ask Straightforward Questions 

After you compose a professional introduction, ask specific questions that expand on your concern and will help your professor explain how he or she arrived at your grade.

  • "My grade posted as a C. Could you provide additional information as to how this grade was calculated?"
  • "Do you have any examples of where my paper was lacking? How could I have made these areas stronger?"
  • "Is there a form I can complete to request a grade appeal?" 

End on a Positive Note

Conclude your conversation by expressing appreciation for your professor's time and help in understanding your grade. An ending such as, "Thank you for your time, Professor Jackson. I want to perform well in your class, and any additional insight will help me achieve success," conveys gratitude.

It's important to remember that your professors want you to succeed; they welcome open communication and questions and value student feedback.

Central Michigan University Online's collaborative atmosphere encourages every student to partner with his or her online college professor(s) and become an active member of a diverse, global learning environment.

Get the most out of your CMU Online degree program and let your professors know how they can help you achieve your education goals.